Federalist No. 23

In Federalist No. 23, Hamilton takes up the topic of the necessity of a government as energetic as the one proposed to the preservation of the union.

In order to facilitate this inquiry, Hamilton determines that there is a need to address:

  • the objects to be provided for by the federal government,
  • the quantity of power necessary to the accomplishment of those objects, and
  • the persons upon whom that power ought to operate
  • .

And to note that the principal purposes to be answered by union are:

  • the common defence of the members,
  • the preservation of the public peace as well against internal convulsions as external attacks,
  • the regulation of commerce with other nations and between the States, and
  • the superintendence of our intercourse, political and commercial, with foreign countries

Breaking these down, we find that the authorities essential to the common defence are:

  • the raising of armies,
  • the building and equipping of fleets,
  • the prescription of rules for the government of both,
  • the direction of their operations, and
  • the provision of their support.

Thus, because it is impossible to foresee or define the extent and variety of national exigencies, these powers and authorities ought to exist without limitation, provided that the power is coextensive with all the possible combinations of such circumstances. In addition, defective as the present Confederation has been proved to be, this principle appears to have been fully recognized by the
framers of it; though they have not made proper or adequate provision for its exercise

Furthermore, if you accept that the circumstances of our country are such as to demand a compound instead of a simple, a confederate instead of a sole, government and carry the argument further, you come to the conclusion that the government of the Union must be empowered to pass all laws, and to make all regulations which have relation to them. The same must be the case in respect to commerce, and to every other matter to which its jurisdiction is permitted to extend. In this situation, the POWERS are not too extensive for the OBJECTS of federal administration, or, in other words, for
the management of our NATIONAL INTERESTS

When you consider the arguments put forth in this essay and the preceding twenty two, the need for an energetic government becomes clear when you consider that no other can preserve the Union of so large an empire, especially given the requirements outlined in this piece.